Crackerjack Productions will again present the “hauntingly fun” Spooktacular Halloween Dressage Show on Oct. 29-30 at the Del Mar Horsepark. The event features the fun-filled Spooktacular Relay sponsored by Horse and Rider Boutique, a costume musical freestyle exhibition, the National Dressage Pony Cup Show Championship and the popular How’lin Dog Costume Contest.
“It was one of the largest shows that we had last year, and we’re planning for it to be just as big this year,” said Lisa Blaufuss, owner of Crackerjack Productions.
The public is invited to enter the third annual How’lin Dog Costume Contest, which will be held on Sunday, Oct. 30.
Check-in begins at 11 a.m. for the 12:30 p.m. parade. The contest will have divisions for small and large dogs with categories such as best-matched pair, scariest, funniest and most creative, plus one overall best of contest winner. All proceeds from the contest’s $10 entry fee will support the FACE Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance for pet owners who are unable to afford the cost of their pets’ emergency veterinary care.
“They have helped a lot of families and pets in San Diego,” Blaufuss said.
In addition to the costume contest, there will also be a track and nose work demonstration by David Greene, an international working dog trainer and behavior modification expert. Popular animal communication expert Marsha Ruether will also be on hand to do readings.
“People can find out what their dog is thinking about,” Blaufuss said.
While there is lots of fun and festivities and horses and riders decked out in costume on Saturday, Spooktacular is still a national, triple-rated dressage show with high-quality riders, horses and trainers. Several Rio Olympians are expected to compete.
Every year, Spooktacular has donated a portion of its proceeds back to a breast cancer nonprofit. One in six women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and Blaufuss said it’s important for women to talk about it and support each other, especially in the dressage world, where the sport is 90 percent women.
The beneficiary of this year’s Spooktacular is Breast Cancer Angels.
“Breast Cancer Angels raises money for women going through breast cancer treatment and helps with things like groceries, gas cards and co-pays. If women are dealing with end-of-life issues, they donate attorneys to help out with a will. It’s just helping with things that a lot of people don’t even think about,” Blaufuss said.
For Blaufuss, the cause is close to her heart.
She rode and competed for years until she was sidelined by a back injury and next by breast cancer, which was diagnosed in 2010. Rather than ride, she turned her focus to equestrian event management and founded Crackerjack Productions in 2011. She has since built up successful and popular shows for the California Dressage Society’s San Diego Chapter circuit.
Unfortunately, Blaufuss, the survivor, continues to fight — she is undergoing chemotherapy as her cancer returned as stage four. She will undergo a brutal round of treatment weeks before Spooktacular. “I call it the shock-and-awe treatment,” she said. “At stage four, you manage it just like heart disease or diabetes. You’re just trying to get it to go to sleep for awhile.”
Blaufuss said she is grateful and blessed that throughout her cancer fight she has had the support of the entire dressage community and the Friends of Lisa, a group that helps fundraise for her costly treatments.
“They were my angels,” Blaufuss said. “For me, this is about paying it forward for others.”
In one of her breast cancer support groups, Blaufuss recalled one women saying, “I’m just done,” completely defeated because she couldn’t afford to get gas to get to her treatment.
“These are the things that go on with women faced with treatments and dealing with this horrible disease. Nothing can be scarier than not being able to afford your treatments. It’s so stressful, and breast cancer is the kind of disease that stress really feeds it,” Blaufuss said. “The reason I chose Breast Cancer Angels is they give back 100 percent to the community and it’s really a beautiful thing. It just touches my heart.”
For more information on Spooktacular, visit crackerjackproductionsllc.com